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Why You Should Stop Using BitTorrent

Sep 1st, 2016 | Posted by | Filed under Indianapolis IT support

BitTorrent facilitators are facing another disparaging malware attack.  Popular client Transmission was unknowingly distributing a brand of malware known as “OSX/Keydnap”. This is a backdoor program which target Macs in order to steal passwords and gain root access to the user’s computer. 

This should be concerning to users because earlier this year, another similarly coded “KeRanger” ransomware was discovered in the Transmission client. This was believed to be the FIRST TIME the Apple operating system has dealt with ransomware, as Macs have curated a brand known for “not getting viruses.”

Photo credit Paloalto Networks

Screenshot from Paloalto Networks

There are certainly legal and legitimate reasons to use torrenting. The concept, founded by Brahm Cohen , was to help small publishers with slower upload speeds share content. Sites like “The Pirate Bay” have given torrenting a bad name, by breaking copyright laws and helping people large of people obtain free media illegally. But even if you plan to use torrenting for completely legitimate reasons, the question becomes not if it’s legal, but if it is worth the potential threat to your computer and your company’s network.

Here are some dangers to using BitTorrent clients:

  • Anyone can see your IP Address: When someone downloads a torrent they can see information about the contributing peer, including your IP address. This is a useful tool for hackers to easily search for computers that might be vulnerable.
  • Dangerous advertising: Torrenting sites don’t always have your best interest at hearts, especially those that operate like Pirate Bay and do not worry about the legality of the content. These types of torrenting sites have advertisements that are annoying and have the potential to contain malware – because the site is more worried about making money than protecting it’s users.
  • Executable files: It is natural to be suspicious of a file that wants to execute a program on your computer. However, if you were going to BitTorrent to download something, you may be less suspicious and grant access to an executable file that ends up being malware searching for personal information on your computer. The malware could be secretly included with the legitimate file.
  • Compromised data: If a torrent file is located in the same folder as other critical information, it is possible a user could accidently include access to this folder when they upload and download torrents. If done on a work computer, these files could contain private company information.
  • Internet Speed: Internet service providers do not trust torrenting clients, and may throttle your internet downloading speed as a result. This could result in reduced speed for all your internet usage, and for your ISP to begin closely monitoring, and possibly even report, your usage.

By Scott Martin - Own workThis vector image includes elements that have been taken or adapted from this:  Desktop computer clipart - Yellow theme.svg.This vector image includes elements that have been taken or adapted from this:  Arrlr.svg (by Harlekin96)., CC BY-SA 3.0

By Scott Martin

BitTorrent began years ago, before Google Drive and Dropbox gained the popularity they have today. It filled a need in a time when internet speeds were slower and people needed a way to quickly distribute files. But now that safer alternatives exist – it’s time to take a step back. If your company is still using torrenting to distribute files, or allows users to do so for their own means – ask yourself this: is it worth the risk?

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